Olympus Confirms New Digital Four-thirds Rangefinder

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Olympus Confirms New Digital Four-thirds Rangefinder

It was no more than a mock-up at the big camera shows, but Olympus has admitted to wired.com that their new Olympus four-thirds system digital rangefinder camera will be available sometime this summer.

The four-thirds system uses a fairly large sensor. It's the size of sensors found in entry-level digital SLR's, and much larger than those in typical point-and-shoot digital cameras. But the system can achieve much smaller sizes than digital SLR's by doing away with the mirror and prism assembly.

Panasonic introduced its first four-thirds camera, the G-1, last year. But to appeal to users accustomed to the look of SLR's, the G-1 retained the familiar mirror and prism "hump", adding to it's size and bulk. And that's why the new Olympus has been eagerly anticipated.

The mock-up - which is the only clue Olympus has given the media - looks like many of the classic rangefinder models from the 35mm era. It's a clean, smooth and compact rectangular box with few buttons and protrusions. The big benefits, though, will be manual controls and interchangable lenses - two of the big pluses of digital SLR's. But the new Olympus should be far smaller than bulky SLR's, while retaining most of the features that advanced amateurs and pros prefer.

Olympus did not confirm a date, but rumors are that it will be available sometime in early July.

Don't look for the new Olympus four-thirds digital rangefinder to be cheap. But if you need pro-level control in a truly compact camera, it will be well worth a look.



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